Request for DNA questioned in fatal bus stop crash

by jeeg 12. March 2013 00:07

Defense attorneys are questioning the motives of authorities who on Friday requested the DNA of Gary Lee Hosey Jr.'s passengers in the crash that left four dead and eight injured in September.

Hosey's lawyers, Kristina Wildeveld and Dayvid Figler, said their client told police that he was the driver and that he has accepted responsibility.

By seeking the DNA of the passengers, Wildeveld said she now questions police whether have evidence suggesting someone else was driving and suggested the search warrant shows mismanagement of the case by investigators.

But prosecutors and police said the DNA would remove any doubt that Hosey was at the wheel if his lawyers suggest otherwise.

The move was "just to lock down where everyone was seated in the vehicle" and the DNA would not be used for any other purpose, prosecutor Eric Bauman said.

Hosey's lawyers have held that investigators initially did not realize he was the driver and tested one of the passengers, Aklilu Atanaw, 24. The confusion occurred because both were thrown from the car.

Wildeveld also questioned the validity of a blood test showing Hosey's blood alcohol level at 0.087 about 45 minutes after the crash. That test was not taken by authorities, she said, but instead by medical personnel and could be tainted and inadmissible.

A District Court judge would have to rule on that issue at a later date.

Police reports show Hosey's blood alcohol level in police-administered tests was 0.06 percent two hours after the crash and 0.05 percent three hours after the crash. Both are below the state's legal limit.

Hosey was found to have THC, the principal active ingredient in marijuana, in his system.

Sgt. Richard Strader, who oversees the department's fatal accident detail, said he would not comment on whether police initially drew blood from the wrong person "since it is an active investigation."

THE TEST

Wildeveld said Hosey waived his right to a preliminary hearing on Friday to spare everyone involved from having to "relive that morning." He will be arraigned in District Court on Oct. 31.

Three of Hosey's passengers, Tamesgen Adam, 22, Maarig Tewolde, 26, and Wendim Fisenar, 31, were subpoenaed to appear in court for the preliminary hearing. They were met by police who took their DNA swabs. Atanaw was not in court.

Figler said "the shenanigans" by police violated the passengers' constitutional rights because they are not accused of a crime.

The passengers signed a consent form for the DNA test after police asked them for permission. The search warrant wasn't available to the public late Friday.

"It was just in case there's any chance Hosey would say, 'Hey, it wasn't me driving. It was this other guy,' " Strader said. "People tend to change their stories. All we're doing is our job as investigators to have a rock-solid case.

"Obviously we work closely with the DA's office. This just eliminates any doubt. You know, to check off all the boxes."

Wildeveld called the move "highly unusual."

THE CRASH

According to his arrest report, Hosey told police that before the crash, he drank only one beer with friends at an Ethiopian bar near the bus stop at Spring Mountain Road and Decatur Boulevard.

Police said the 2001 Monte Carlo was traveling at a high speed when it went airborne at the intersection and slammed into the crowded bus stop at about 6:30 a.m. on Sept. 13.

Gerber Hernan Ayala-Tomasino Jr., 24, Johnni Lee Garner, 49, Margoth Gonzalez, 65, and Hyon Cooley, 47, were killed.

Hosey remains at the Clark County Detention Center on $4 million bail.

Francis McCabe and Mike Blasky, Las Vegas Review Journal

 

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